Sport ch-ch-Chek ready to help kids turn and face the strange for fall

Who: Sport Chek, with Cartier for strategy and creative; Cult Nation for music; and Touché for media.

What: A back-to-school campaign for the Canadian Tire Corporation-owned sports retail brand connecting its “Find what moves you” platform to the sometimes-anxious moments kids face around going back to school.

When & Where: The campaign is live now, with a 30-second ad for broadcast and online, supported by out-of-home and targeted digital.

Why: Sport Chek’s brand focus has been on presenting sports as something bigger than the games themselves. “Everything we do is grounded in sport, and really the fundamental belief we have that sport is an investment in something bigger than ourselves,” said Stephanie Wall, Sport Chek’s vice-president of marketing. That theme was at the core of the spring campaign, where the emphasis was on the benefits of team sports for kids.

Back-to-school—and the end of summer—is a period of significant change for a lot of people, but especially for kids. “That’s where we tried to really ask ourselves what role does sport play in those times of change, the role that sport plays in sort of helping navigate the new,” said Wall. “That could be for your kids, but also for ourselves as we get back to a new routine.”

How: The campaign is anchored by a 30-second ad (with an iconic backing track, more below) which features three young students anxiously making their way through the first day of school—looking for friendly faces on the school bus, struggling with a locker, feeling small beside the bigger kids around them.

Halfway through the spot, the three kids lace up their basketball shoes, don Sport Chek pinnies and hit the court. The visuals deliver the key message based on a core insight: sports can provide comfort and a sense of continuity, but also a connection with new people and new experiences.

“Welcome back to sport, a feeling that will never change,” says a voiceover.

Sport Chek products are featured in a supporting role, but the hero of the ad is the sport itself, with the implicit reminder that Sport Chek is the destination to go when you want your kids playing sports. “I think kids want a lot of things when it comes to back to school, and it could be everything from the cool sweater to the Nike [shoes],” said Wall. “It’s not about the stuff… It’s about the role that sport plays.”

The ad ends with line “Find what sports move you,” before “sports” fades out to leave the tagline on screen.

The brand spot will be followed by targeted mid-funnel creative in the weeks to come, said Wall. “We not only talk about being the destination for sport, but show our customers the right product at the right time and the right channel.”

The Music: It’s a cover of David Bowie’s “Changes.” Getting the rights for the song was the first hurdle to be cleared at the very start of the developing the campaign, said Wall. “I think the ad really hinged on having that song.

“We wanted to have something that really reinforce what we’re talking about, which is about navigating change and navigating the new… Frankly, before we even started to look at  the storyboards, we wanted to make sure we had that music.”

David Brown